Our English Department is reading, discussing, implementing 20 Literacy Strategies to Meet the Common Core. Last week, we met to discuss Strategy 3: Prove It. In the midst of this, though, a term jumped off the page, grabbed me, and requested that my brain hit pause.
What Is Assumptive Teaching?
Teaching that assumes that because students have been taught content that they know it. That’s right…that content was covered last year. Of course, they know it!
A Better (or worse) Example:
I planned a 15-minute bell-work giving students time to develop their outlines for our upcoming essay assignment. That’s right…yes, we created outlines last semester in my class under my tutelage. Outlines with parallel structure. Of course.
Thirty minutes into the lesson, I became a live example of non-assumptive teaching as I re-taught what they had not mastered last semester. Modifying and adjusting. That is what we used to call this guiding principle.
When a new year begins, I tend to re-teach, accepting that many have lost much over the three-month summer break, gauging their responses verbally and via formative assessments how much each have actually retained. The irony, though, is that the above bell-work lesson hit just a bit close too home when my students did not retain what I had assumed they would have from the previous semester. Or should I look at this glass as half full and thank them for giving me this example to discuss during book club?!
I assume, though, that many students have mastered content when I see the “we got this” face and positively nodding heads…and so we move on. Not stopping. Just moving on and leaving students further behind.
Could assumptive teaching ever be used interchangeably with high expectations? Expecting students to learn, to retain, to master content, these are obtainable goals. After all, that is our job: to teach students to learn. Because I have high expectations, I “expect” them to learn; thus, I should not have to re-teach, assuming they know all I have ever taught them.
Please re-read the above paragraph and find the fallacy.
Yes, that line of thinking is flawed. So is assumptive thinking.
Here’s to assumptive-free teaching!
Additional Resources on Assumptive Teaching: